Long Beach Heritage (LBH) is a nonprofit education and advocacy group promoting public knowledge and preservation of significant historical and architectural resources, neighborhoods, and the cultural heritage of Long Beach.
LBH works with neighborhoods and public and private agencies, including the Cultural Heritage Commission, to strengthen public protections and preservation incentives.
LBH publishes a quarterly newsletter featuring local architecture, history, and discussing preservation issues.
LBH presents community forums, educational programs, lectures, and architectural tours promoting public awareness.
Message From Past President, John Thomas
In the current economic climate, many proposed projects that may threaten historical resources have been either put on hold or are under review for evaluation. Concurrently, many community planning initiatives are under assessment that will have a direct impact on how the city of Long Beach will manage our historic resources including our downtown, neighborhoods, and older historic retail corridors. These initiatives include the Historic Preservation Element, a city wide historic resources survey, and new downtown development guidelines. During this "time out" forced by the economic challenges we face, many local historic preservation organizations are stepping in to seize the opportunity to "re-set the clock" on preservation based projects, policies and practices.
Recently, during the California Preservation Foundation Awards dinner held aboard the Queen Mary, I had an opportunity to speak to representatives from various historic preservation disciplines, including state and local government, private sector and nonprofit organizations, and owners or stewards of historic properties. All agree that the "development slow down" is the time to work with the local government decision makers, including elected officials, to evaluate preservation programs and partner to make substantial modifications to ordinances, laws, or polices/procedures. Currently under review by city staff and members of our various development related Commissions and Boards are programs and guidelines that deal with "Community Revitalization".
Long Beach Heritage members have always shared the opinion that the success of ongoing community revitalization and stabilization programs is directly related to how we manage our historic assets. Preservation is a strategic tool that empowers both the developers and the preservationists to protect the older buildings in our communities. A building's significance may be derived from its historic context, the architectural style or designer, the previous occupants, or the past uses of the structure. Our historic buildings tell intriguing stories that reveal unique clues about our society, businesses, and inhabitants. These historic resources provide a valuable and precious link to previous generations, helping to define what makes Long Beach's heritage unique, and reminding us of the people who lived, worked, and played in our community. Protecting these structures and our historic fabric for the future generations to enjoy has a direct aesthetic, cultural, social and psychological value.
During this time in Long Beach history, the reassessment of procedures and policies that address community revitalization in our historic downtown core must be consistent with historic preservation initiatives. How our existing buildings relate to new uses and architecture must be a priority and will require transparent design review opportunities for all stakeholders. Providing incentives for adaptive reuse and sensitive architectural design to the development community is a necessary action.
The preservation of our city's older buildings has a direct bearing on the quality of life in our historic downtown, business corridors, and neighborhoods. Studies continue to show that communities which embrace adaptive reuse of historic buildings in new development provide safe, stable communities and sustainable neighborhoods, rising property values, and vibrant commercial districts. Additionally, these practices continue to attract new retailers and commercial real estate brokers representing national companies.
Long Beach Heritage continues to support preservation-based community revitalization practices. We will continue to advocate public policies that ensure local planning and zoning laws encourage community revitalization, incentives for preservation, and creation of historic districts. Additionally, Long Beach Heritage will continue to work with and educate City Council members, appointed officials, and staff, as constructive partners in historic preservation.
We want to remind all officials, design professionals and citizens that community revitalization initiatives, economic development and historic preservation practices are NOT mutually exclusive and can be compatible and effective tools to create sustainable and vibrant communities!